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The Wall Street Journal

September 29 2011

Unwanted Dogs Stress City Pound

Earlier this month, San Francisco’s pound made an unusual public plea: No more dogs, please.

The city’s Animal Care and Control Department was facing a population problem—it has about 100 kennel spaces, but was taking in some 300 dogs a month from people who abandoned or turned in their pets. “We were completely crunched for space,” says Rebecca Katz, the director of ACC, who put out a request that residents wait a week to surrender their dogs to alleviate the immediate overflow.

Overcrowding at the public pound is afflicting cities across the U.S. amid a weak economy. But in San Francisco, a contingent of animal activists is developing solutions they hope might relieve the pressure. Among them: financial aid for pet owners who can’t handle vet bills; collaboration with private businesses; and specialized placement programs for hard-to-adopt dogs. Some of the programs are among the first solutions of their type in the U.S. to help keep challenging dogs with families—and away from euthanasia. …

San Francisco also has a growing network of nonprofit adoption groups such as one called Muttville, which takes on elder dogs that other facilities would have more difficulty adopting out. Muttville’s founder, Sherri Franklin, began her program in 2007 to give older dogs needed medical care, then pitch them to families in need of dogs with known or calmer personalities.